GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — The families of the people killed in an apartment fire in 2002 have presented their case to the North Carolina Parole Commission to keep their murderer in prison.
The morning after Valentine’s Day 2002, Janet Danahey set fire to the Campus Walk Apartments in Greensboro, then left the scene as the flames consumed the building.
Firefighters raced to the scene to find residents jumping out of third-floor windows to escape the flames.
Four people, sisters Donna and Rachel Llewellyn, their roommate Beth Harris, and Donna’s boyfriend Ryan Bek were all killed.
Danahey was arrested in the following days before pleading guilty to the murders and being sentenced to life without parole.
In December, Gov. Roy Cooper announced the commutation of Danahey’s sentence, making her eligible for parole on January 1, 2023. Within a few weeks, Danahey’s lawyer, her sister, and Beth Harris’ father presented a case for her release to the parole commission.
According to the victims’ remaining family members, Beth’s father is the only immediate family member in favor of Danahey’s release.
Today, FOX8 was there as Ryan Bek’s family participated in a call with other victims’ family members, as they made a last-ditch plea to keep their loved ones’ killer in prison.
This call was the culmination of a years-long battle to make Danahey complete her sentence, with letters being sent to the commission since the idea of her sentence being commuted was presented.
Over the course of about 25 minutes, the families of Donna and Rachel Llewellyn, Beth Harris, and Ryan Bek implored the parole board to deny Danahey’s parole.
“I believe the best way Janet can honor the lives of Donna, Rachel, Ryan and Beth is to accept the consequences of her actions and serve her prison sentence in a God-honoring way,” Carolyn Llewellyn, the mother of Donna and Rachel Llewellyn, said in part. “I also believe the best way Janet’s family and friends can help her is to visit her prison and give her encouragement as she seeks God’s help to accomplish His special purpose in her life.”
Jim Bek, Ryan Bek’s father, said, “It’s sad that we have to deal with this again and again when Janet committed herself to doing good in the prison system. She needs to stay in the system and continue to do good.”
Crystal Knight, the mother of Elizabeth Harris, said, “A lot of what was applied in Janet Danahey’s case was actually a sentence she willingly accepted in exchange for prosecution not seeking the death penalty for the murder of four people. How were we to know that the justice we sought would be undone by the stroke of the pen? If I had thought that this was a possibility, I would have chosen to go ahead with the trial.”
The families were told there could be a decision within the next six weeks.